The Little Swift

Available yarn can be found here. Available fibre is here.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of the naming party for Tom Bihn’s new knitting bag,  The Swift, and loved the bag so much, I wrote a review of it.

Tom Bihn has recently introduced The Swift’s little sibling:  The Little Swift.  I’ve been in possession of a Little Swift for about 2 weeks now, and it was love at first sight.

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi ballistic nylon, empty

It’s lime green!  (There may have been jumping up and down when I saw it)

The Materials:

The Little Swift is currently available for pre-order (for shipment in July) in Kiwi ballistic nylon, dark brown (Cacao) waterproof Ultrasuede, Cork, and natural Vulcana Hemp/Recycled Rubber.  I’ve spent quality time with all of these materials, except the Cork.

The Ultrasuede is yummy and rich, but I find that pet hair and fluff stick to it quite easily.

The hemp/rubber is very nice.  It was softer than I expected.  I thought it would be a hair/fluff magnet — it wasn’t AT ALL.  It stood up to rubbing, friction and moisture quite well; it would survive a rainstorm/snowstorm well and won’t wear away at your clothes.

The ballistic nylon is my favourite…but that could be because I prefer colour to neutrals.  It’s durable, but soft to the touch…no wearing away at your clothing.  It withstands weather well…on one of our first dates, we had to walk around downtown Toronto in a torential downpour.  Nothing inside got wet.  And the colour is outstanding!

Size Matters:

So what’s the size like in comparison to the Swift?  Here they are lying one on top of the other:

And side by side by side:

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi; Swift in Indigo/Black - both ballistic nylon

The Little Swift is 80% of the size of the Swift, but the handles are the same size!  One of my favourite things about my Swift is that I can pick it up with one hand and swing it over my shoulder.  Lots of elbow clearance, but it still sits solidly on my shoulder without slipping off.  The Little Swift is no different.  Even with a thick sweater and my heavy, down winter coat on, I can still wear the Little Swift on my shoulder.  And the padded handles are still there.  So I can carry it FULL of heavy things and my shoulder/hand is cushioned.

The size is PERFECT for me.  I’m 5′ tall and the Little Swift sits neatly under my arm and nestles into my waist.  I’ve had a few friends of different heights try it on and they all love how the bag feels on.

Side by side comparison of the regular Swift on me (5’0″ tall) and Susanne (5’9″ tall  AND Smart-Ass Knitter/World Domination artisan):

The bottom of the bag hits me at the top of my thigh.  It hits Susanne at mid-hip.

And the Little Swift:

The bottom of the Little Swift hits me at mid-hip, and ends at the top of Susanne’s hip.

But how much can you put in the Little Swift?  I’ve been using it as my “everyday” bag for 2 weeks.  There’s plenty of room for my everyday purse stuff (wallet, glasses, makeup case, etc.) plus a small knitting project and my small knitting tool-case.  Or, I can carry my everyday purse stuff, a few work files and my 13″ MacBook.

Here’s the Little Swift full:

(L-R:  front view, top view, side view)

What’s inside:  cardigan back in progress, 1 200g yarn cake, wallet, glasses, keys and book (Veronik Avery‘s Knitting 24/7) in the main body of the bag; cell phone, small makeup case, pens in one pocket; knitting tools in the other pocket.   I’ve also tried it with a Tall Yarn Stuff Sack filled with a spindle and roving instead of a knitting project.  That also fits nicely.  Big enough to carry what I need for the day, yet small enough to prevent me from overloading my bag with everything I own.  Perfect.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Other Features:

Let’s take a look at the other features of the Little Swift.

1.  New!  All Swifts and Little Swifts have a reinforced well surrounding the bottom.  

This helps the bag sit upright on its own.  My original Swift tends to fall over unless it’s full.  The new ones don’t!

2.  Like the Swift, it has 2 inside side pockets with clear fronts.  These span the width of the bag and about halfway down the side of the bag.

inside: my knitting toolkit, inside a mini organizer pouch

For comparison, the same pouch inside the Swift’s side pocket:

3.  There are also 4 plastic grommets for hooking your Stuff Sack or keys, etc. to.  Two deep inside the bag:

located just inside the deep "V" on either side of the bag

And two on each of the handle sides of the bag:

Outside the vinyl pocket on one side; inside the vinyl pocket on the other

4.  Each Little Swift comes with a Small Stuff Sack…about an inch shorter than the regular Stuff Sack.  Tom Bihn has gone through many versions of the yarn guide inside the Stuff Sacks.  Mine came with the new version:

It’s a little carabiner!  It’s the best one yet.  Lots of room for the yarn to move around and nowhere for the yarn to get caught.  I’ve tried it with several weights of yarn from very fine silk lace to heavy, aran weight handspun.  No issues with any of them.  I was finding my yarn would occasionally get caught on the snap on the old version:

Snap version is at bottom of photo

As far as I know, both versions will be included in future Stuff Sacks, so you can choose the one that works best.  (OR!  Use both for fair isle/colourwork)

Extras:

Other accessories I’ve found useful, that work well with the Little Swift:

Clear Organizer Pouches

This is my travelling knitting toolkit.  It’s a mini clear organizer pouch containing stitch markers, a tape measure, row counter, 3 cable needles, 3 tapestry needles and a pencil.  I’ve attached my scissors to the pouch with a key strap.

I also have my keys attached to a key strap and a clear organizer wallet:

Like the clear organizer pouches, but with 2 ultrasuede dividers to help keep you organized.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Three Years Later:

I’ve had my original Swift in Plum/Grey cordura for almost 3 years.  I’ve used it almost constantly for those 3 years.  It still looks new.  There is absolutely no change in the colour or the state of the fabric.  Amazing.  There is no sign of wear anywhere.  No broken plastic parts, no tears or dents in the vinyl pockets. There is no sign of wear anywhere.  I’ve never washed it in a washing machine (this would void the Tom Bihn warranty).  But I’ve put it through hell and back.  I’ve spilled food and drink on it, have dropped it in the mud, have been sprayed from head to toe with slush and salt by a passing truck and a bird has pooped on it.  All dirt and stains have been removed with a little soap and water or vinegar and a sponge.    It is the most versatile and adaptable bag I own.  Great for everyday, for work, for a weekend of walking around a fibre festival.  I have yet to meet its equal.  Clearly, I don’t have to.

it’s all about the (new) bag…

I have a thing about things to hold my stuff.  Baskets, boxes…and bags…lots and lots of bags.  And finding the perfect bag for a specific purpose that has a look I like AND functions well is my holy grail.  The search for the perfect knitting bag has been a long one and although there are some really great ones out there, none were just right…until now.  I have finally found the perfect knitting bag for me:  lightweight, able to fit both my everyday stuff and my knitting and adaptable to my changing needs!  The new knitting bag from Tom Bihn…the Swift!  

Notice the adjustable (3 settings)  button closure that holds everything in.  And the padded handles…a very nice and comfortable touch.

My version is made of 2 different colours of cordura — steel on one side, plum on the other.  Love these colours!  The bag is also available in ballistic nylon.  There are pros and cons to both materials.  The cordura is light which adds little weight to the whole bag.  Important to me because I tend to fill my bag up with everything I need for a busy day.  But this also means the bag is quite slouchy, something that doesn’t bother me at all.  If you want a stiffer bag, try the ballistic nylon.

The rough side of the cordura (on the outside of the bag) attracts fluff, which means if you’re knitting with mohair or angora or you own a cat, you’ll have a furry bag in no time!  Having said that, I have a dog who has spent the better part of the past 2 weeks rubbing up against the bag, and his fluffiness hasn’t rubbed off on the bag at all.  Even the tumbleweeds of dog fur that hug the base of my spinning wheel have managed to keep from sticking to the bag.   

Other considerations:  The ballistic nylon is more waterproof and is a sturdier material than the cordura.  The cordura comes in more colours.  It’s a matter of taste.

But what I really love is the inside of the bag and the multitude of ways I can adapt it to suit my needs.

This bag holds A LOT!  To give you an idea of how much, I’ve filled the main compartment of the bag with 8 balls of yarn, the finished Tilted Duster and a copy of Knitting Nature, along with everyday things like my wallet and glasses.  The bag is fill about 2/3 of the way to the top.  I wouldn’t want to put much more in it, because it would make access to the pockets a little difficult. 

Yes!  The pockets.  The bag has 2 big zippered pockets with a clear vinyl front so you can see what you put in them.  The back of the pockets are lined with the Dyneema nylon which has a dark grey background and white grid.  Very easy to see what’s in the pockets.  I use one pocket for everyday items like my glasses and cell phone…  

 

…and the other one for my knitting tools: tape measure, my Harmony knitting needle set, needle case, scissors, crochet hooks, cable needles and needle gauge.  Definitely not every tool I own, but pretty close! 

Keep in mind that the heavier the items you put in the pockets, the more top-heavy the bag will be.  If I’ve got a pattern book or extra balls of yarn in the bottom of the bag, that helps keep gravity in check.  I still prefer having the pockets near the top of the bag for easy access and visibility.

Another standard part of this bag is the Stuff It! Yarn Stuff Sack…a removeable project bag.  It’s a drawstring pouch with a hard plastic tab to guide your yarn through so the ball stays nice and neat and contained inside the bag, while you knit away outside of it!   The project bag has a key snap attached so that it can be clipped to the inside of the main bag to one of the 4 d-rings. 

 

The d-rings are indicated by x’s in this photo.  One is located inside one of the zippered pockets, which makes it a perfect place to use a key snap to attach your scissors.

 

And as an unexpected bonus, there are 2 slash pockets formed at the bottom of the inside, where the 2 colours of fabric cross over.  Just the perfect size and shape to slip my wallet or other items, keeping them separate from my knitting, but in a place I can easily reach without putting the bag down and digging through it.

In addition to the knitting bag itself, I treated myself to some organizer pouches to help organize my stuff:

 

 

Mini pouch for business cards and subway tokens, attached to my key snap…right at my fingertips whenever I need them

 

 

 

 

My Harmony knitting needle set and a needle gauge slipped into a medium pouch that fits neatly into one of the zippered pockets

 

 

 

 

The tools I use most, in a small pouch, attached to a d-ring so that the pouch can hang over the side of the bag…easy access at knit night 

 

 

 

 

A key snap to hold my scissors and a medium pouch for a pattern.  Both are attached to a d-ring for easy access on knit night or for subway knitting.

 

 

 

For the past 2 weeks, this bag has not left my side.  I love the look and the function.  The bag will be available on the Tom Bihn website  anyday now, so keep checking!